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Meal Pattern Minute: Veggie Straws

August 5, 2023

Figuring out what to serve children or adults in your care can sometimes be challenging. There are lots of products on the market that appear to be healthy and creditable in the Child and Adults Care Food Program, but you are not one-hundred percent certain. One of those snack type foods you might see are veggie straws. When you look at the ingredients, you see that there are vegetable components, but is the product creditable in the CACFP as vegetable?  


What a great question and one that Isabel Ramos-Lebron, MS, RDN, LD, answers in this Meal Pattern Minute, “Do veggie straws credit towards the CACFP Meal Pattern?” In under a minute, you’ll know whether or not you can credit and be reimbursed in the CACFP by serving this product.  


When it comes to vegetables that have been processed and packaged as veggie straws or sticks, you must analyze the ingredients and the form in which it was prepared. Although veggie straws may have lower total fat value when compared to potato chips, you may see a rise in sodium. Veggie straws are typically fried and contain little nutrients. These would not be considered a substitute for getting proper nutrition that you would get by eating whole vegetables because generally, these products contain an insufficient amount of vegetables per serving. Refer to the Vegetables Section of the Crediting Handbook for the Child and Adult Care Food Program to get the definitive answer. 


Serving vegetables is part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program requirements. Vegetables must be canned, dried, frozen, fresh or 100% full-strength vegetable juice in order for it to be creditable in the CACFP. Some pasta made from 100% vegetable flour may credit towards the vegetable component in the CACFP meal pattern. For more information on vegetables and how they may credit, review the USDA Crediting Vegetables in the Child Nutrition Programs Tip Sheet.


Want to get a recipe that gives you that chip-like feel but it is creditable in the CACFP? Check out USDA’s cooking video and recipe on Parmesan Zucchini Chips. 


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